Friday, March 03, 2006

At the Starting Line

... as reported by Paul Stewart
(a.k.a. "DancesWithSandyBottom")

With 0 days 8 hours 10 minutes 29 seconds left to prepare for the start of the WaterTribe's 1200mile Ultimate Florida Challenge (UFC), Dawn (a.k.a., "SandyBottom") is camped at Ft. DeSoto with her Kruger Dreamcatcher boat near the starting line on Mullet Key in Tampa Bay.

It falls to me to post daily updates here and on the website about her progress. Previously, for the Everglades Challenges of 2005 and 2004, my charge involved use of e-mail to push news to you. This year blogging replaces the spamming; that's progress.

Two good articles were published this week about the UFC ..,,11069-2067013,00.html

This year the grueling 300 mile Everglades Challenge (EC) comprises the first stage in the 5-stage 1200 mile UFC. Many are entered in the EC. Ten are entered in the UFC. You can follow all the challengers at the WaterTribe website. This year the website features Google maps of the route with push-pins indicating the positions of the challengers; click [Challenge_Viewer] .

Latest news: It may have been a quiet week in Lake Wobegone but that was not the case here with seemingly endless efforts to prepare, organize and pack. The to-do list alternately shrank and grew eventually vanished. How exactly does this giant jigsaw puzzle fit in the boat? At one point some of most of the important things all did just barely seem to fit in it and I judged by the fact that Dawn was not crying or anything that this was good. In fact, I asked and it turned out that she was extremely happy! Up until Tuesday evening, every room in our house looked like an REI store had exploded in it. Then, as if by magic, the minivan was loaded (boat on roof racks) and the house looked amazingly normal again.

It's not that the crazy seemingly impossible job of preparing, organizing and packing was done, it just moved to Florida in a minivan.

Dawn drove off at 4:30am on Wednesday as happy as a clam and arrived at Ft. DeSoto by 5pm. Along the way on I-95 she passed over the St. Marys River on the Georgia-Florida border. In Stage 4 of the UFC she will be paddling 90 miles upstream on this quiet river. While going over the I-95 bridge she was thus able to scout a good, oh, 0.2% of the UFC route. Her previous completions of the Everglades Challenge in 2004 and 2005 gave her familiarity with an additional 25% of the UFC route.

Thursday and Friday were packed with packing interrupted (Friday) by a required meeting of the skippers (pictures below) and by long interviews with reporters from the news media.

Now the boats are on the beach to be watched overnight by security guards. Dawn will be up early to finish packing the boat so that she will be ready when "Chief" says 'GO!' tomorrow morning at 7:00 am.

Skippers Meeting

Weather forcast: Looks good for Day1. Forcast is for North 10 knot winds (at their backs) and only light chop across Tampa Bay. Details at...

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